You can learn a lot about the world of wine from reading
June 27, 2001
One thing I learned a long time ago is you can't taste all the wines offered on the market today. Over the past 30 years, I've given it my best and failed.
Some simply don't taste good to me. The Gewurztraminers from Alsace. for example. This highly perfumed, spicey wine is listed by many critics as one of the great wines in the world. To me, it's what liver is to most people's dinner table something to be avoided.
Some are just too costly. The great burgundies, LaRomanee or LaTache at $500, $1,000 or more, depending on age and vintage, is a little steep for my purse.
Others are unavailable in this state and, in fact, hardly available in New Orleans without mortgaging you house and your first born. First growth Bordeaux from a great year make my point.
So, in addition to wines out of my own cellar, the cellars of friends, wine representatives and out-of-town tastings I read a lot. You can learn a lot about what is happening in the world of wine by reading magazines and books on the subject.
Currently, The Wine Spectator is generally considered to be the leader in the magazine field. It is a large oversize magazine, beautifully printed with a great deal of color and photos plus full page ads that make you want to go to your wine cellar immediately and open a bottle or two.
It is also filled with reviews and news about wine. If I can't afford LaRomanee or LaTache or the first growths of bordeaux I can at least learn something about their current vintages, just in case my richer wine drinking friends might wish to share.
They, like most similar magazines, are a little top heavy with stories and reviews of wines produced in hard-to-find tiny amounts with big price tags. That's understandable as long as they also review the $10-$30 wines more easily found and available in Mississippi. That they do.
The magazine sells for $45 for a one year subscription and $75 for a two year order. Their Internet address is www.winespectator.com
As for books, we've mentioned many times that Robert Parker is considered America's most influential critic. Two weeks ago while vacationing in Gatlinburg we discovered in one of those discount book stores Parker's 1,200 page "Wine Buyer's Guide" in soft cover. The suggested retail was $25, but since this was the 1995 edition it had been marked down to $5.49. Of course, it does not contain current reviews but the basic information as to wineries, types of wines and countries of origin remains basically unchanged.
There's a bit of tongue-in-cheek about Parker and one of the chapters contained a page devoted to The Top Fifteen Biggest Lies in the wine world that I thought you'd enjoy. I can add a few of my own, but I don't dispute any of his. We quote:
15. The reason the price is so high is the wine is rare and great.
14. You probably had a "corked" bottle.
13. It is going through a dumb period.
12. We ship and store all our wines in temperature-controlled containers.
11. You didn't let it breathe long enough.
10. You let it breathe too long.
9. Sediment is a sign of a badly made wine.
8. Boy are you lucky..this is my last bottle (case).
7. Just give it a few years.
6. We picked before the rains.
5. The rain was highly localized; we were lucky it missed our vineyard.
4. There's a lot more to the wine business than just moving boxes.
3. Parker or The Wine Spectator is going to give it a 94 in the next issue.
2. This is the greatest wine we have ever made, and, coincidentally, it is the only wine we now have to sell.
1. It's supposed to smell and taste like that.
Let me add a possible lie number 16, my personal choice, the clerk's reply to the customer who asks about the quality of a particular bottle of wine.
Stan Torgerson, a longtime Meridian resident, has written a wine column for several years. You may contact him by e-mail him at email@example.com